120 CURRY PIONEERS
The British curry scene is changing. Here, we meet the chefs and restaurateurs introducing diversity and seasonality – and reveal what you should order on curry night
How Britain is changing Indian food
There will always be a place for what we’ve come to love as a ‘traditional’ British curry: the Anglicised chicken tikka masala, with its lurid red sauce, cooked in vats to serve the masses. But there is so much more to the food of India – a country as big as Europe – and a new wave of restaurateurs and chefs are showing us what we’ve been missing, not just in their dishes, but in the experience of eating out. Above all, what distinguishes their approach is an unerring focus on regionality, seasonality and short, sharp menus offering tantalising and surprising taste twists.
At Dishoom (dishoom.com), now a restaurant group of six, serving in Edinburgh and sites across London, co-founder Kavi Thakrar, recalls, ‘When we started in 2010, we wanted to change things, tell stories about Bombay’s Iranian cafés, about our culture. There were stereotypes we wanted to break.’
Sharing this passion is chef Minal Patel of Prashad ( prashad.co.uk), near Bradford, who isn’t afraid to innovate on traditions passed down through generations in her family. ‘Prashad is special because it isn’t just a business, it’s a window to Gujarat life, which was created by our founder, my mother-in-law, Kaushy,’ she explains. Fellow trailblazers Harneet and Devina Baweja, who opened Gunpowder ( gunpowderlondon.com) in 2015, before bringing us Madame D (madame-d.com), Gul & Sepoy ( gulandsepoy.com) and this autumn, their bakery Custard, all in London, attribute this development to customers’ changing tastes. ‘Britons are well travelled now, they know better and don’t want to be hoodwinked: they want fresh ingredients,’ says Harneet. ‘Forty years ago, curry houses would offer regional home cooking but the British palate wouldn’t want those chillies and spices, so they adapted. Now we’re adapting again.’
The sigree grilled mustard broccoli at Gunpowder is a taste explosion